9/24/2004

and you thought i was kidding about the bears. this is one of the bern bears. this guy was just hanging out, patiently waiting for tourists to toss him carrots. photogenic fella, huh? this is where the bears live. (my cousin and cousin-in-law are the ones hanging over the railing.) doesn't seem like such a bad life -- from the little i saw, it seems that they spend the bulk of their days napping and rolling around. and waiting for carrots. this is bern: taken at dusk from the rosengarten high above the town. even though it's a bit dark, i like the lit-up windows. looks almost like a little village one would find at disneyland, no? as i said previously, bern's not too far away from italy, really, but it feels worlds apart. the architecture has a very distinctive teutonic feel, and everything is so tidy! and clocks -- clocks everywhere. this is what a swiss castle looks like: i think we were in theis, about a half-hour's drive from bern. this castle sits next to this lake: i don't know if this is common to other countries that abut the alps, but switzerland has these trains that go straight up mountains: and at the top, you get views like these: the majority of visitors on these trains are swiss, usually older (most pushing 60, i would venture to guess) couples going on their weekend hikes. again, the elderly swiss are serious about their hiking. some of them will plod alongside the train up the 1500 or so meters. (the top of this mountain is about 2500m above sea level.) some take the train up and then hike down (which seems even scarier than the other way 'round). and then there are the train passengeres who hike up and parasail down: *** i call it "mister rogers." i just finished my latest sweater last night. i'd cranked this one out in about a week, and in the process i learned how to knit short-rows (which creates miraculous shaping. compare this guy to my first sweater, the pale yellow jobby with the wonky shawl collar -- i thought i was short-rowing, but instead i was really just making a mess.), make buttonholes, and sew on buttons. this time, i didn't follow any particular pattern and pretty much winged it when it came to the calculations (knitting, i've discovered, is very arithmetic-heavy), but i think it fits much, much better than anything i try to knit out of pattern books and magazines. why anyone would knit a sweater with drop-shouldered sleeves escapes me. set-in sleeves kick ass! (does this constitute knitting nerdiness, this exclamation?) i've been amassing this embarrassing collection of buttons, all the while nursing an irrational fear of incorporating buttons into my knitting. but i took the plunge. and i am satisfied. i had to frog and reknit the button band four times, though, because i kept miscalculating. damn that arithmetic. damn my laziness. i'd originally intended to do a bit of embroidery on the back, but i think i like it the way it is. this is the first sweater since that initial yellow one i'd knitted where i had to do some seaming. all the others in between were knitted in the round (or tube-style, on circular needles) and required no seam-sewing, which i used to think was the better way to go. but i was reminded this time that i love, love, love seaming. it makes the whole process almost magical, in that these knitted panels, themselves fashioned from a length of string, basically, are then joined by some more string, transformed into a three-dimensional shape that speaks of human form: there is the V from shoulders to waist; there, the curve from upper arm to ribs; and there, the sternum framed within the collar and neckline. this is mister rogers with his requisite button band: and this, this is mister rogers in all his glory:

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